If rainy days and gray skies sound like a big bummer, you’re not alone. For many people around the world, weather can affect mood — and for a variety of reasons.

Cold, rainy, cloudy days seem to be the epitome of dreary. Authors have historically used them to convey an ominous setting or a time during a story when things take a negative turn. There’s a reason why we call these “bad” weather days.

Precipitation, blustery wind, and extreme weather shifts can shut down planned activities. Despite that fact, for many people, gloomy weather means a gloomy mood for no apparent reason.

Weather can affect your mood for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways.

In 2013, preliminary research from the Seventh International AAAI Conference outlined how temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation can all play a role in daily mood.

In the research, low mood was generally associated with:

  • temperature extremes below 50°F (10°C) or above 70°F (21°C)
  • high humidity
  • precipitation
  • fog

High mood was associated with:

  • temperatures between 50°F and 70°F (10°C and 21°C)
  • clear skies
  • high atmospheric pressure
  • sunlight

Not everyone is noticeably affected by the weather, however. If you’re significantly impacted, you may be considered “meteoropathic,” or “meteorosensitive,” an experience first recognized and documented by the Ancient Greeks.

Meteoropathy often features weather-induced:

  • severe headaches
  • insomnia
  • poor concentration
  • irritability
  • old injury pain flare-ups

Weather can have specific effects beyond feeling positive or negative about the day. It can have lasting mental health impacts, contribute to stress, and may even make you more likely to feel aggressive.

Seasonal affective disorder

When you live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you experience bouts of depression that align with the winter or summer months.

Researchers aren’t clear on the exact causes of SAD, but the way weather affects certain biological processes in the body is thought to play a part.

Shorter days and less sunlight exposure in the winter months, for example, can alter levels of certain chemicals in the body associated with mood, sleep, and circadian rhythm regulation.

Stress levels

Stress occurs when your body faces a challenge, and extreme weather can stress the body both mentally and physically. Not only does your body have to adapt to being hot or cold, but you also have to mentally adapt to the changes weather brings.

If you’re in a flood zone, for example, heavy rain might naturally cause some anxiety. Or, if you had important travel plans, certain weather conditions might cause stressful delays.

A 2020 literature review in the United Kingdom suggests that extreme weather events are associated with an increase in common mental health challenges like depression.


Hot temperatures appear to be linked to higher rates of aggression in what’s referred to as the “heat hypothesis.” Under this theory, being hot can promote aggression through:

  • discomfort
  • impaired cognitive function
  • competition for local resources, such as water

One study from 2018 found rates of violence increased as temperatures got hotter. In addition, a study from 2023 in South Korea found hotter temperatures were linked to a greater number of assault deaths.

Suicidal ideation

For reasons unknown, suicide rates increase during the spring and early summer months, according to research. Experts believe this finding may be linked to:

  • sunlight-induced changes in brain chemicals
  • temperatures triggering mood episodes in mental health conditions like bipolar disorder
  • compounded brain inflammation from seasonal environmental exposures (like high pollen counts)

Researchers aren’t sure exactly why weather affects mood, but biology, evolution, and culture could all be involved.

As seen in conditions like SAD, certain weather exposures, like sunlight duration, can affect biological processes in the body associated with mood and processes that affect mood — like sleep and circadian rhythm.

A study from 2024 investigated the “greenery hypothesis,” which suggests humans respond favorably to the color green because it’s associated with flourishing landscapes and favorable climate, which are important for survival.

In addition to biology and evolution, culture could also influence your relationship with mood and weather. If you’ve grown up in a culture that heavily associates rain, clouds, and cold with “bad,” it’s natural to be disappointed and down during that weather.

Climate change goes beyond daily weather fluctuations affecting mood. The climate you live in is made up of long-standing weather and atmospheric patterns that help shape a region’s overall environment.

Climate change, or the shifting and alteration of typical patterns, is a major environmental shift that can have significant mental health impacts.

According to a research review from 2023, climate change is a major stressor for mental health and is linked to increased rates of:

Not only can climate change create severe weather events like fires and floods, it can have indirect effects like food insecurity and population migration. It can also create feelings of loneliness, separation, and a loss of identity or belonging.

For some people, climate change is also a source of despair. Environmental grief and ecological grief are two forms of grieving linked to the natural world:

  • Environmental grief: the mourning of lost ecosystems
  • Ecological grief: a sense of lost connection with nature

Some experts combine these two types of grief under the banner of “climate grief.”

The weather isn’t within your power to change, but you can be proactive about reducing its effects on your mood.

Tips to help you cope with weather-related mood changes include:

  • watching the forecast so you can prepare for weather changes
  • practicing gratitude to promote a positive mindset regardless of the weather
  • keeping a symptom journal so you can pinpoint specific weather changes that affect your mood the most (humidity, temperature, precipitation, etc.)
  • adding daily stress reduction and wellness strategies like mindfulness, meditation, or mind-body arts
  • create a cozy space in your home where you can enjoy indoor hobbies

If weather is significantly impacting your mood, your doctor may be able to help. Not only can your doctor assess possible underlying medical conditions, but they can also discuss other therapy options, like phototherapy, that might make a difference.

It’s natural for the weather to affect your mood once in a while, especially if it ruins plans or makes going out physically uncomfortable.

When weather contributes to broader patterns of mood change, biology, evolution, and culture may be responsible.

Keeping an eye on the forecast, being proactive about mental wellness, and ruling out underlying medical conditions can help you cope with weather-related mood changes.